The Usual Suspects

2 Jan

The Usual Suspects

A while back, during first semester, I was having a conversation with my wonderful professor. Well, technically, it was an interview that ended too shortly and was continued by a conversation. But such details are needless. During this conversation, we had a discussion about our favorite movies. This started when I read from the list of interview questions I had written in my notebook.

“What’s your favorite song-slash-movie?”

“Well… I couldn’t really tell you what my favorite song is. There are so many. But my favorite movie? That one’s easy.”

It was this one.

“When I first saw it, I was alone in my dorm room. And when it ended, I was like (drops jaw).”

“I already know the ending.”

“You already know the ending?!?!”

Yes, I did. It was a crying shame. The big twist ending was ruined for me when I watched one of those Vh1 clip shows from years past. Some sassy comedian was sitting in front of a green screen: “Oh ma god, when I saw the ending, I was all, ‘Oh ma god! I can’t believe that dude’s Keyser Söze!!!’” Then they rolled the clip: Kevin Spacey walking down a crowded sidewalk, starting at a limp and eventually walking straight, revealing that he was faking it all along. I blame everything on Vh1.

Anyways, even though I knew the big twist, I still wanted to watch this film. Which raised the question:  How can you enjoy a movie when you already know how it ends? The answer: You watch a good movie. Which is what I did.

This film is directed by Bryan Singer, who, since this film, has gone on to direct movies like Superman Returns and the first two installments of the X-Men trilogy. The point being: Bryan Singer is a very good director who makes very entertaining films. This one is no exception. It also is nothing like any of those other movies. It’s a dark, violent (not to mention funny) crime mystery. Still, for all the dark and violence, it is a lot of fun to watch, even if it takes you a little while to figure out what’s going on. (But maybe I’m just saying that because I’m slow.)

Another great thing about this movie: the acting. Most notable, of course, is Kevin Spacey’s performance, which won him an Oscar, but he and all of the others make for a great ensemble cast. In particular, Gabriel Byrne is very good in his role as the criminal who doesn’t want to be a criminal anymore. Also, Stephen Baldwin is fantastic. Stephen Baldwin! Who knew? I didn’t!

Wait, I was talking about Bryan Singer and then I stopped. Sorry, Bryan Singer. I was going to say that he manages the overall tone and aesthetic of this movie very well, thanks in part to his decision to shoot it in the grainy, gritty, Pulp-Fictiony style. It’s a very nice touch, and I enjoyed the way it allowed Gabriel Byrne’s powder blue shirt to shoot rays of light into the camera.

It really is beautiful, believe me.


But enough about all the things I enjoyed. What’s a critic if he’s not bitching about minor flaws that he doesn’t like? For example: Um, this was supposed to be a “thriller”? Sure, there were a lot of intense action scenes, but I never really got that feeling of suspense that the word “thriller” entails. I disagree with you, words! Also, like I was saying before, this movie took a few too many minutes to really become coherent. Like I said, it’s entertaining throughout, but for the first 10-15 minutes, it was just a bunch of amusing babble to me. They might as well just had Benicio del Toro give a really long introductory monologue. (Side note: Benicio del Toro is also great.)

There’s not much else to bitch about in this movie.  It’s fast-paced and exciting, and it has a great cast. Not to mention, a superb ending. Even though I knew full well how it was going to end, I was still in awe when it ended. Slack jawed, like my professor back in college. Suck on that, Vh1.


Next time, I sign up for a Lala account and dip my shiny little spoon into the aural ice cream bowl that is Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.


One Response to “The Usual Suspects”

  1. Anna January 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM #

    you’re funny. I’m excited that you’re doing this face.

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